If you listen to the radio for a while, you’ll probably notice that every song kind of sounds the same. Or if you watch movies, you’ll often start to notice how frequently movies are just re-makes of something else. And even the original movies still all use the same basic story structures, such as the Hero’s Journey. The same thing happens with technology. Microsoft makes something. Google makes their version. And Apple comes along and makes there version a little bit better than the others.
[tentblogger-youtube oOlDewpCfZQ] Everybody is copying.
Solomon said it himself when he wrote, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Whether we are talking about music, books, a sermon series, or blog posts, there really aren’t any completely original ideas. All of our ideas come from someone else who got their idea from someone else who got their idea from someone else.
We all desire innovation, but we often forget that the innovators are also copycats.
Copying is usually frowned upon, but I think that as artist-theologians many of us would benefit from learning to copy well. When we learn to copy appropriately, we learn from the positives of the artists around us and make that our own. We don’t become carbon-copies of the people we copy but we become hybrids of all the people we imitate and when combined with our own personality and style, it becomes something completely new.
Find other artists, preachers, storytellers, and writers. Read their writing. Study how they say what they say. When you find one that you love, listen to everything and find out what they read and listen to.
It’s okay to copy bits and pieces of the people you love. Copy what you love while still being yourself. Years ago, I was overly concerned with sounding like the preachers I liked, but it was recommended to me that I shouldn’t worry about it.
Because that preacher I loved, he sounds like the preachers he listened to. And his preachers sound like their preachers. And so they were all shaped by the ones who went before them and help form the preacher himself.
Make it your own.
The goal in copying isn’t to be identical to any one artist, but to learn the skills and apply those to yourself.
Austin Kleon suggests, "“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.” Copy the preachers, writers, and artists you love. And in the end you may be influenced by those artists, but you will still be you.
You copy some. You discard others. And you learn your own voice.